Who else remembers Ugly Betty? In high school, I watched it and Grey’s Anatomy every Thursday night with my mom. As of today, I have not seen it in years, but I’ve been having my memory jogged lately by the young Freddy Rodriguez in Six Feet Under. And now I really think I might need to rewatch the whole damn thing, because Betty Suarez was my preeminent fashion icon throughout late middle and early high school.
To begin with, I looked like her:
I remember having the resemblance disdainfully rubbed in my face a few times by older girls on the school bus. But mean-spirited or not? It was seriously just true.
Some backstory: Betty Suarez is your typical fish-out-of-water assistant at (fictional) MODE magazine. It’s never entirely clear whether fashion-magazine standards or Betty herself is the butt of the show’s long-running joke. I forgive it, though, because every character is a caricature in some way. It’s a glitzy, soapy, tropey show. And Betty’s outfits, though very likely not intended that way, are a huge source of sartorial porn for me. Her clashing prints clearly come from a place of ignorance, but they really don’t look too different from the more conscious rule-breaking of certain trendsetters. I mean, have you seen Anna Dello Russo? It’s funny how subversion comes full circle.
Does it really matter, though, whether Betty intends to be eccentric? The girl is clearly an unrealized sartorial genius. I’ve compiled for y’all a compendium of Betty’s more garish getups. The sort of thing I would unabashedly emulate. Sorry not sorry. She’s a hell of a lot more creative than the show’s basic bandage-skirt biddies. Seems to me that risk-taking would be more encouraged at a fashion magazine, even a fictional one, than toeing a particular aesthetic line. And let’s not even talk about dat embedded classism.